Roos recruit college player
New ball game: Basketballer Eric Wallace will join North Melbourne. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
FOUR months ago, Eric Wallace had never heard of a Sherrin, let alone kicked one.
But now the American college basketballer has signed with North Melbourne as an international rookie and hopes to one day play senior AFL football.
Wallace, who played college basketball in the US, has been training with the Roos for the past two weeks after impressing at the draft combine in October.
The Roos needed to make a quick decision on him by this week's deadline or request an extension.
The 23-year-old from North Carolina was one of 10 international prospects invited to the camp after standing out at an American combine held by the AFL in Los Angeles.
Wallace, who is 197 centimetres and 105 kilograms, was considered an NBA prospect during his three-college career but missed out on being drafted.
He had been considering moving to Europe to play basketball when his agent called offering him the chance to test at the LA combine.
Wallace told The Age in October that he had quickly fallen in love with the game and, as a professional athlete, wanted to master it.
''It's a physically tough game. It's very fast paced, but it's addictive,'' he said.
''I had no idea what it was, but as soon as I watched it on my own and took the game in I just got addicted to it.''
Kangaroos coach Brad Scott said Wallace's work ethic and athletic ability had suggested he was worth taking a chance on.
''Eric has worked extremely hard and proved to us he's willing to do whatever it takes to play AFL football,'' Scott said.
''The ovation he received from the playing group when we announced his signing was evidence of how highly regarded Eric already is at our club and the way he has fitted in so easily.''
Wallace will start training with the Kangaroos full-time in early January.
■Essendon's much-vaunted new draftee Joe Daniher has had knee surgery, the club has confirmed.
The Bombers say the 18-year-old forward, who joined the Bombers under the father-son rule in the national draft, will be on a restricted training program in early January. But the club says that it was only minor surgery and is not expected to cause much disruption to Daniher's otherwise impressive pre-season campaign.
''He's had a minor scope to clean up a bit of cartilage that came loose from his patella,'' Essendon football manager Danny Corcoran said on Thursday.
''We're expecting him to be running on day one when we return [from the club's Christmas break].
''He's had a good six weeks before the break. He's really trained very, very well so far in the pre-season.''